Yorkshire members of Farm Stay UK are seeking to build on their success in the tourism awards arena this year – backed by a call to action from their regional chairman.
Val Leeming, right, receives her AA's national tourism awards from presenter Gioranna Grossi.
It follows a strong performance in 2008 – the milestone 25th anniversary of the Yorkshire region of Farm Stay UK, the country’s largest network of farm-based accommodation providers.
Val Leeming, of Bay Tree Farm, Aldfield, Ripon, was a finalist in the Friendliest Landlady category of the AA’s National Tourism Awards for the fourth time.
Val, who also holds 4-star Gold Accreditation from Visit Britain, has been doing B&B for 25 years and says she has enjoyed meeting so many different people and in some cases forging lasting friendships. “To get some recognition after a quarter of a century is most rewarding,” she said
Three other Farm Stay members won through to the finals of the White Rose Awards – Yorkshire’s tourism “Oscars.”
Katrina Gray, who has a 5-star Gold farmhouse bed and breakfast business at Wold Cottage, Wold Newton, Driffield, qualified for the Guest Accommodation of the Year category. It was the fifth time she had been chosen as a finalist.
“We are constantly upgrading and always looking at new ways to encourage guests to visit us again,” said Katrina.
In the Access for All section, two finalists were Angela Foster, of Field House Farm Cottages, Sewerby, Bridlington, and Diane Stenton, of East Hill Farm House and Lodges, Thornton-le-Dale, Pickering.
Angela and John Foster have seven four and five-star cottages, while Diane Stenton, who was also a finalist in the outstanding customer service category of the 2008 Yorkshire Moors and Coast annual tourism awards, runs four pine lodges and a furnished farmhouse divided into apartments. All properties are rated four-star.
“We have upgraded paths and put in ramps to better accommodate people in wheelchairs and families with pushchairs. We are also building new attractions for children, such as an Army bunker with tunnels. It’s all about opening up access to all,” said Diane.
The four ladies, buoyed up by their awards success last year, say they are geared up to participate again in 2009 in the hope that they can gain more recognition and hopefully win one of the top awards.
They have the full support of Yorkshire regional Farm Stay UK chairman Caroline Barker, of Cundall Lodge Farm, Cundall, York, who is encouraging all 100-plus members across the county to consider having a go in the industry awards arena.
Caroline said: “Entering awards certainly keeps us on our toes. It is a very good way of shining the spotlight on what we are doing and assessing what we need to do to move forward and enhance our service provision year-on-year.
“Our members continue to develop extremely high standards of accommodation, offering a warm welcome and traditional hospitality, where guests are a name, not a number.
“Hard times are undoubtedly ahead and anything we can do as a group to raise our profile can only help attract visitors from both at home and abroad to this wonderful part of the country.”
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